The final hours of 2016 are rapidly fading, another cycle of our calendar surrendering to the relentless cycle of our planet’s orbit of the Sun. Traditionally this is a time of reflection on the past, plans for the future, and setting of goals for the first page on the new calendar. Most resolutions made at this time are bold, grand, and generally of a life span too short to be noticed. Yet, changes happen, some are good, some are not, some are preventable, some are unfortunate on a very personal level, but change is as inevitable as the spinning of the Earth on its wobbly axis as it orbits the Sun.
Climate change has been much in the news since the 1980’s, a conversational hot spot and political hot potato with opinions falling on both sides of the subject. Many people believe the variations in the climate are the result of human behavior since the Industrial Revolution. Others are not so certain humans are the primary source of the changes.
Global warming is a reality. Beginning at the end of the last Ice Age, the climate has been warming. This is not a new experience for the Earth. There have been several eras of glaciation and inter-glacial warming in the billions of years our home planet has been in existence. The current inter-glacial period has lasted more than 25,000 years, or about the average for such a variation historically speaking. This is a pattern which humans can neither alter nor control.
I do not take issue with the argument that pollution in all its forms threatens our health and the health of our environment. Each year the human population is responsible for a massive amount of pollutants in our atmosphere and our lands. We are also in the midst of a period of volcanic activity. Mt Pinatubo demonstrated how much a single eruption can effect air quality on a planetary basis. On the island of Hawaii, the new activity in the Kilauea crater has sent a plume of gases down slope that has destroyed vegetation and closed roads for the past decade. Hawaii is in the center of the “Ring of Fire” which encircles the Pacific, but is only one location with high activity. Of course we can’t ignore Europe and Africa, where volcanic activity is also on the rise. We live on a ball of fire, and cannot even hope to quench the molten furnace at the core.
I think we each have a responsibility to ourselves, our children, and our future descendants to preserve for them, as best we can, the planet for their use. I also believe a balance has to be struck between what we need to do and use and what we save for the future. It is arrogant and foolish to believe that highly developed nations can dictate to nations attempting to achieve the same development how to govern the use of their resources. It is equally arrogant and foolish to destroy the productivity of our own nation in an effort to bend the changing climate to our will. Climate is not a controllable entity. The temperature of the oceans and the shifting of ocean currents are not within our realm of influence any more than the shifting of the jet stream, the movement of the tectonic plates, or tilt of the axis upon which Earth rotates, a movement which brings our changing seasons.
As we begin a new calendar year, I suggest we should look around our personal environment and determine what we can do in our personal lives to make things better. If each of us does something in our own space to improve and preserve our home planet, we will all enjoy a better life. Along with this resolution we should also resolve to respect our personal and national neighbors’ right to choose their own way of doing or not doing something to make life better.
Happy New Year!